What Causes Vulvodynia

Posted on 1/13/2010 | Comments ()
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Dr. Oz and Dr. Ashton discuss vulvodynia in the no-embarrassment zone. Learn what causes vulvodynia by watching the video, but some common treatments are:

Self-Care Measures

Many women who have vulvodynia will develop personal strategies that help to control the pain. Here are some tips for everyday living.

  • Wear 100% cotton underwear during the day and wear nothing at night and avoid using panty liners or wearing pantyhose
  • Don't use harsh soaps or douche but instead cleanse with natural emollients such as olive oil and sweet almond oil or just plain water
  • Use non-propylene glycol lubricants during intercourse to improve elasticity of tissue
  • Dab the vulva with cool water after urinating
  • Apply cool ice or gel packs before engaging in a triggering activity
  • Eat a low-oxalate diet (also prevents kidney stones) to reduce the calcium oxalate crystals in urine that might irritate vulvar tissue
  • Use a soft "donut" pillow if you need to sit for a long time

Blocking Pain Signals

The goal of pharmaceutical approaches is to desensitize or block pain signals. Medications can be applied topically, directly on the vulva, taken orally or injected. Here are a few options that interrupt pain signals.

  • Topical anesthetics that contain lidocaine or capsaicin applied 30 minutes prior to activating activity to numb affected area (avoid cortisone topical steroids)
  • Estradiol cream if low is estrogen is low
  • Antidepressant and anti-seizure medications that are known to have pain-reducing qualities
  • Trigger-point injections of steroids or Botox

Practitioner-based Therapies

Patients who see an a physical therapist experienced in treating women with vulvodynia can see marked improvement in symptoms after a series of sessions. The therapist works on stabilizing muscle tone to improve contraction strength and structure of pelvic floor muscles, a potential trigger for pain.

 

Biofeedback, cognitive and behavioral therapies (CBT) and supportive talk psychotherapy can help patients develop self-regulation strategies to cope with the pain and psychosocial distress that can accompany a diagnosis.

 

And as a last resort, surgical procedures (perineoplasty or vestibulectomy) removes tissue that is causing the pain.

 

For more information visit the National Vulvodynia Association.